How to Determine When a Prenup is Needed
Prenuptial agreements provide couples with a framework for resolving financial conflict
By MiShaun Taylor
Although a prenuptial agreement is not a requirement for marriage, there are certain situations in which a prenup is a good thing to have. A prenuptial (or premarital) agreement can be a great tool to help establish goals and expectations prior to marriage. A prenuptial agreement not only can protect you in the event of divorce, but it also can be a great way to bring a couple closer before marriage.
- What You Need to Know
- Consult an attorney to draft your prenuptial agreement and make sure that it is legally binding. Most family law attorneys will handle prenups. Meet with several and choose one that you and your future spouse are comfortable with.
- Create a list of assets and debts for both the bride and groom.
Consider how well you know your future spouse. Most people know their fiance for a couple of years before tying the knot and find out a great deal about them after marriage. You can use a prenuptial agreement as the basis for discussion and agreement on financial topics that will be important in the future. Prenuptial agreements resolve conflicts before they arise.
Consider whether there are children from a previous marriage. If one person is bringing children from a previous marriage into a second marital relationship, you should consider a prenuptial agreement. Address how you will provide for those children separately from the assets that will be shared with your new spouse. Make sure you can transfer property to those children in the event of your death. Specify what's expected of the step parents so there are no surprises once you are married and there suddenly are children living with you.
Determine whether there is a wide disparity in wealth. The typical prenuptial agreement is between one spouse who has significant assets and the other who does not. To protect the wealthier partner from being taken advantage of, financial advisers suggest that a prenup be signed. Although this seems to go against the grain of a loving marriage, a prenuptial agreement can have a clause declaring itself to be void after a certain number of years of marriage. This way, a couple has the chance to show that their marriage is built on love, not the anticipation of gaining wealth.
Think about whether there are significant premarital debts. If one party to a marriage has significant debts such as school loans or credit card debt, the other party may want protection so that the debt doesn't become a sudden burden to his or her financial well-being.
Consider Whether There Is Enough Time for a Prenup. A prenuptial agreement is not just a solution to having cold feet. On the contrary, a prenup will be valid only if it is written with plenty of time before the wedding to ensure that proper counsel is obtained and there is no duress. If you want a prenup but the wedding is just a couple of weeks away, a better alternative is to postpone the wedding than to have a spur-of-the-moment prenup written and signed without time to think about what you are agreeing to.
About the Author
With more than 15 years of writing experience, MiShaun Taylor specializes in wedding-related articles.
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